Arts Commission discusses plans for new year

Dancers Delaney Rhoads and Amber Mistic spin as their dresses light up during the Senses Block Party on Main Street in Old Town Newhall, Calif., on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2022. Chris Torres/The Signal

Roughly six years into a 10-year Arts Master Plan for Santa Clarita, members of the city’s Arts Commission met recently to discuss plans for 2023 and to discuss the progress made in 2022.  

The Arts Commission has eight committees that work on the various aspects of the city’s 113-page Arts Master Plan, and so the Dec. 19 meeting was an important opportunity for the groups to get together as a whole and discuss their efforts and any potential for overlap, according to city officials. 

“The meeting (Dec. 19) was really to bring the information and the discussions from the committees that have happened individually together to the whole commission, and particularly one of the areas was diversity and inclusion,” said Phil Lantis, arts and events manager for the city of Santa Clarita.  

Among a number of goals the commission has for the area, the group is expected to explore the potential for a live-work space for artists in Santa Clarita, opportunities for local art to add to the experience for visitors to the city’s historical assets, such as pop-up installations, and supporting the creation of a museum and cultural center.  

In the Arts Commission’s capacity as an advisory body, its chair, Susan Shapiro, said Friday that what those plans end up looking like are subject to a number of factors, but they’re all items that have drawn interest from the arts community, ranging from the local artists association to CalArts, the world-famous Valencia arts college. 

“That could be a lot of different things,” Shapiro said, using the example of the city’s potential for an artist-based live-work space in Santa Clarita. “Our role is to hear from the community, to look at the recommendations in the master plan, and then to, starting at the committee level, do everything we can to support that particular recommendation coming to fruition.” 

After the first Arts Master Plan was adopted in 2016, there was discussion about working with local entities that do live-work spaces in communities like Ventura, where the situation is slightly different and there are larger but now-defunct industrial buildings that benefitted from such a project breathing new life into the space. 

While the same conditions might not exist in Santa Clarita, the arts community has seen an interest in making this type of project happen. 

“We don’t have a lot of space like that in Santa Clarita, so my hope is that we will get creative and figure out other ways for there to be live-work space, hopefully in the Newhall vicinity,” she said, noting it’d be a great area for it because the area is transit-adjacent. 

Pop-up installations are something the city has already introduced during its local events that celebrate local arts, such as the monthly SENSES events, where, for example, the wall of the former Roger Dunn golf store was used to project a display.  

However, Shapiro would like to see more of that type of interactive art to engage visitors, which has the potential to inform and entertain. 

“One of the recommendations (in the 2023 plan) was related to the historic assets in the Santa Clarita Valley, and finding ways to have connections between those historic places and the assets and the art,” she said, “and I believe that our committee is going to be having some meetings, probably starting first with the (SCV) Historical Society, about the potential that exists, at Heritage Junction, or art to activate that space, or for the arts to be part of the plan that they’re creating.” 

Consultants working on a new museum in the SCV Historical Society’s Pardee House recently completed an effort to gather community input on what people might like to see at the location. 

For more information, contact the commission secretary at 661-250-3787. For more information about the SCV Historical Society, contact 661-254-1275. 

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